Unlike many of my colleagues, I didn't come to geology, or even education, by early association or interest. No one in my extended family had ever gone to college much less had an interest in science. Mining was something they did “up nort on da range – don't ya know” in Minnesota. I only knew that I was very curious about pretty much everything and I liked the outdoors. Actually, I really disliked school! I began my un-dergraduate work in 1962 at Long Island University while I was in the U.S. Air Force stationed in (get this) “the Hamptons” and finished up with a B.Sc. in Geology from the University of Minnesota, Insti-tute of Technology. My first geology course hooked me and I've never looked back. I did my graduate work at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where I earned a M.Sc. in Geology. A few years later I got within inches of a M.Sc. in Mining Engineering but, for many rea-sons, I never finished.
My first job out of school, was as a mine geologist at the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota. Times were tough and I thought I was just taking a job to mark time until I could get a “real” job. I'm constantly amazed at how wrong I can be! This was where I discovered the emotional and intellectual “rush” of finding gold, both by breaking it out of a rock face and by guessing (modeling) where it might be, drilling holes through it, actually opening it up and finding that it really was or wasn't there. I've been looking for, and occasionally finding, gold ever since. I stayed with Homestake for 12 years working in many old and new mines, both underground and surface. I spent several years doing basic district and detailed scale mapping and then went off to the San Francisco corporate office where I got involved in evaluating projects, programs, companies and deals. When I transferred to the Exploration Division I wound up running exploration projects in South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. I like to think I got pretty good at working Precambrian rocks and mineral systems but, unfortunately, I never have been and never will be a real “expert”.
The education I received at Homestake was priceless and I was privileged to work with, and learn from, many of the brightest geologists, engineers and businessmen in the business. If asked, I'll tell you I learned the business from the bottom (of the Homestake Mine) to the top (of the Homestake corporate offices).
I moved to Reno in 1983 to manage the exploration effort for Atlas Corporation (later to become Atlas Precious Metals). For the next four years I had the honor and privilege of working with, and learning from, one of the finest exploration teams ever assembled (my humble opinion). The discovery by that team of what is now called the “Gold Bar District” in Eureka County, Nevada and the Grassy Mountain deposit in Oregon, provided about as much fun as anyone should have without involving women and booze.
In 1987 I launched (or is it lurched?) into the great adventure of independent consulting. This has been a 23 year “wild ride” that I have enjoyed more than I can describe. I've been able to take soil samples in a still-smoking burn area of central Nevada, run a couple of junior mining companies, advise hundreds of clients (rightly or wrongly in their judgment), ride a mule up a narrow mountain trail in Mexico, manage projects, large and small throughout North America, mix with brilliant scientists, infamous promoters, wonderful people, real jerks and generally live a pretty free and independent life. I’m still at it and still having fun.
My association with GSN dates to my arrival in Reno in 1983 and I've been involved in one way or another since then. I've worked, in various capacities on every Symposium since 1987 and will, with luck, be involved in the next one. I've been on nearly every field trip and I still regret the ones I missed. In about 1990, I was asked to be the first Chairman of the Education Committee and served in that capacity for about 5 (I think) years. I was asked to help out with the formation of the GSN Foundation in the late „90's and to work on the committee that established the GSN Board of Directors in 2004. I was “elected” Vice President in 2001 – 2002, President 2002 – 2003 and a Director in 2004. I currently serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors.
GSN is truly unique in our industry. I don't know of any other organization that combines the technical excellence of a true scientific society with the fun and camaraderie of a social “club”. Geologists and “miners” are, indeed, special and GSN reflects, in many ways, the special characteristics of our profession and avocation. Career highlights include being involved in the discovery of the Foley Ridge gold deposit (now the Wharf Mine) in South Dakota, the magnificent adventure of discovery during my time with Atlas and the fun of working and playing with all of the wonderful and “interesting” people in the mining business. In a 39 year career my only real regret (aside from bitching about the heat or the bugs) is that I didn't get to go to all those exotic foreign places in my youth and have to do it now, even though it's much more demanding physically – and I often have to pay for it myself rather than being paid to do it! Deep Enough!
John Winton Erwin*
Erin L. Hart
Greg T. Hill
Joseph Kizis, Jr
Brooke J Miller
Justin and Ajeet Milliard
Mia (Cowgill) O'Neal
Shea Clark Smith
Roger C Steininger